London: Shipping has a new bespoke PR firm. Many might groan at the news of yet another spin merchant, but in Patrik Wheater Seaborne Communications has someone who is uniquely qualified, a former seafarer turned journalist who has been carrying out public relations for an established UK name before striking out on his own.
“There are tons of PR firms out there,” Wheater admits, “but what I hope to achieve with Seaborne Communications is to provide companies operating in the maritime industries with an alternative to the fluff that some firms continue to spew out in the hope that maritime journalists and editors will use.”
Wheater says shipping journalists and editors rarely use PR generated content unless there is bona fide story, an interesting development or it raises an important issue.
Wheater stresses that there are many exceptionally talented PR professionals out there, but he says there’s also an influx of firms with little shipping industry experience and which appear to be more interested in marketing themselves than the companies they represent.
“I hold no truck with this,” Wheater says, adding: “To my mind there is little value in appointing a technical shipping media consultant if the client has to spend time explaining what the company, product or service does and how it fits in to the great scheme of things. The PR guy should instinctively know what journalists want, what makes a good story and how to reach out to the market place.”
Ten years ago, Wheater reckons the setting up of a new specialist maritime PR agency may have been a difficult one to square, considering the conservative nature of the industry, which historically has been reluctant to engage the maritime media. But things have changed, he feels.
“Despite the fact that 2016 will remain a tumultuous year for many companies,” he says, “there is greater awareness of the commercial benefits positive media relations can bring. Modesty will after all bring only modest results.”